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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

Plant Pathology student represents UFS at Youth Ag-Summit in Australia
2015-07-24

Nicola Theron
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Nicola Theron, a third-year student in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), will be attending the Youth Ag-Summit in Australia next month.

According to Prof Zakkie Pretorius, researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences, this is a great achievement for the university, given that Nicola is one of only four students from Africa chosen to attend the summit. The selection process was facilitated by Bayer Cropscience.

In her essay, Nicola focused on ‘In field rainwater harvesting’ (IRWH) and its application in informal settlements for the purpose of saving water, as well as of utilising available water to its full potential.

From 24 to 28 August 2015, she will gather with 99 other young leaders from across the world at the Youth Ag-Summit in Canberra, Australia, where they will be discussing their ideas on finding sustainable solutions for the growing global need towards safe and nutritious food.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 interested on a personal, professional, and academic level in agriculture, and food security, as well as environmental and social stewardship, were asked to present their ideas on the causes, consequences, and possible solutions for global food security, in an essay of 1500 words.

The judges received more than 2000 essays from 87 countries.

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